Over the past five years China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a megaproject to develop a series of overland and maritime trade corridors between Asia, Europe and Africa, has steadily been laying a new framework of transportation infrastructure, energy projects and trade zones, thereby providing the impetus for economic rejuvenation and political cooperation, but also debt and security risks.
Over 100 countries have signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with China committing to the Belt and Road Initiative and developments along its network of overland and maritime trade corridors have likewise been booming. According to China’s Ministry of Commerce, in the first three quarters of 2018 China’s trade with Belt and Road countries amounted to more than $860 billion – a 13.2 percent year-on-year increase – on the back of 82 Chinese-developed overseas trade zones, which have contributed to the creation of over 240,000 jobs. The western regions of China are likewise booming with development as Silk Road cities like Kashgar, Horgos, and Urumqi revive their ancient relevance. So too are European dry and sea ports like Małaszewicze, Duisburg, Hamburg and Piraeus, while new Middle Eastern manufacturing hubs, such as Duqm in Oman, are on the rise, fueled by Chinese investment.